Hey, kids, you remember Mike Elgan, dontcha? He's the gelatinous hunk of wadded up Kraft Singles that Computerworld employs as a columnist.
Right, right! That Mike Elgan.
The last we saw Mike he was arguing that the Zune scares Apple to the core (get it? Core?! Ha-ha-ha!).
What's that, dear reader?
Oh, the Zune.
Z. U. N. E.
It's Microsoft's iPod killer.
Um... no, ZUNE.
C'mon, surely you remember the Zune. It's like the Foleo without the refreshing sense of honesty.
Well, it doesn't matter. What does matter is how laugh-out-loud (LOL for you kids out there) wrong Elgan's outlook on the Zune was.
Even if Apple is able to retain its lead, it could still be hurt - badly - by the Zune, which will capture mind share, grab market share and squeeze Apple on pricing.
Wow! That was really, really wrong! Ha-ha-ha (LOL)! The Macalope, however, was prescient in that post above.
Being a technology pundit is never having to say you're sorry. You can be wrong for years and never lose your job.
Which brings us to Elgan's most recent piece (link updated with cached copy).
Don't look now, but the role of the industry's biggest bully is increasingly played by Apple, not Microsoft. Here's a look at how Apple has shoved Microsoft aside as the company with the worst reputation as a monopolist, copycat and a bully.
People love iPods (including me; my family of four has purchased 12 iPods in the past few years). But iPods come bundled with iTunes.
Mike, you say that like it's a bad thing. The horny one remembers what it was like trying to connect a Newton to, well, anything and he gets down on all four knees every day and thanks Steve Jobs for actually taking responsibility for making sure the iPod connects to both Macs and PCs in something other than the most rudimentary form. And without a dongle (the Macalope kids the Newton because he loves the Newton).
Apple not only "bundles" iTunes with multiple products, it forces you to use it. At least with Internet Explorer, you could always just download a competitor and ignore IE.
And these oranges are just the same as those apples!
Not fair, you might say.
Well, you were at least right about that.
Any hardware device that syncs data with a PC as part of its core functionality has software to facilitate that syncing. True enough. But operating systems have browsers as part of core functionality, too. Doesn't Mac OS X come with Safari? Doesn't the iPhone?
Ah, but the soup comes with a salad! So doesn't this mean that salad is a core function of soup?!
Mike, can you use a computer without a browser? Yes. Can you use an iPod without music or movies? No.
Can I reformat my iPod and install something else?
Uh, yeah, actually, you can.
You know, Mike, there's this thing called "Google" and you can actually type things into it and it will bring you links with related information from all over the Internets.
You should totally try that some time.
Apple strongly discourages all that, claiming that the iPod, the iPod software and iTunes are three components of the same product.
Please cite your source as the Macalope is a close follower of the company and he has never heard Apple say that. The obvious objection would be that it doesn't want to have a conversation with you that goes like this:
YOU: Hey, my iPod doesn't work.
APPLE: Oh. OK, well, what version of the iPod software are you running?
YOU: Oh, I'm running a Linux build that I compiled myself.
YOU: Hello? Hello? Helloooooooo?
Apple has to discourage that. Its whole shtick is "making the whole widget". Its competitive advantage is making a seamless user experience that provides value to its customers. Microsoft's competitive advantage is in making shady back-room deals that sell out user functionality to the whims of weasels from the RIAA (that's not hyperbole, they actually employ real weasels) and involve great wads of cash as cigar smoke swirls in the air and several hookers look on from a red velvet couch.
That's how the Macalope heard it anyway.
In any event, Mike, contrary to your insinuations, you can use third-party tools to manage files on the iPod. Just because Apple supplies a nice interface to take care of it for you doesn't mean they're a bully.
Here's another way to look at it. If Microsoft unbundled IE from Windows, you'd still have an operating system. If Apple unbundled iTunes from the iPod, you wouldn't have a digital music player, you'd have a brick. A brick that reeks of high design and good taste, but a brick none the less.
Mike then spins a tale of poor ol' dad who just wants to copy his iTunes songs and movies to a competing player that has an FM tuner (dad is also, apparently, an idiot because he could just buy an iPod FM tuner but, whatever) but can't because Apple uses DRM! See, Apple is the new Microsoft! Which, er, also uses DRM. DRM that's more restrictive. So, Microsoft is also the new Microsoft. And so is Google, but for different reasons. It's all kind of confusing.
But Apple is teh sux! Even though Steve Jobs has publicly encouraged all the music companies to drop DRM and was the first to bring EMI's music to market DRM-free.
That's only because he's mad with power.
How on Earth can Apple seriously charge the same amount again for the ability to hear just 30 seconds of the song -- the same length as the free iTunes "samples"?
The Macalope doesn't particularly want to defend ringtones because he thinks they're stupid and really annoying but according to Leo Laporte on the most recent MacBreak Weekly other phone companies actually make you pay every three months for the same ringtone.
Arg, there's only so much of this a mythical beast can take and Elgan goes on and on and on and then ends in typical passive/aggressive link-baiter fashion.
After reading my preceding comments, you may be surprised at my next statement: I come not to bury Apple, but to support it.
I come not to slacken your chain, but to yank it.
We know what you're doing, Mike. Knock it off.